Thursday, October 8, 2020
WATER - Journal Entry: May 3, 2020.
As I was studying this morning, I pondered the life of Joseph Smith and thought of a line from the film, 'Joseph Smith : Prophet of The Restoration'. The line that came to mind is said just after Joseph's wife asks him how much he would have to endure for the Lord, and the Prophet's reply was this...
"Perhaps I am meant to swim in deep water. Better deep than shallow."
This line has always stuck out to me and taught me of Joseph's deep and abiding faith in the Lord, but it helped me this morning and throughout the day to think in a way I hadn't ever before. I have had times in my life, one just recently, where I too felt as if I was 'swimming in deep water', but I never understood what the Prophet meant when he added to his reply, "Better deep than shallow". What did that mean? Imagery soon flashed through my mind as I pondered.
In Lehi's dream we learn of two sources of water. He tells about a river of filthy water which Nephi later teaches represents the wickedness and abominations of the world, the depths of Hell. These are the waters of death, destruction, and damnation. We also learn of the Fountain of Living Waters, continually springing up unto everlasting life. In reading about these different waters, it's not hard to see which of them we ought to partake in. There is, however, more to the picture. In using the word 'filthy' to describe the water, it wasn't exactly the color of it that was being referenced but it's content and purpose, and remember that the river of 'filthy' water ran next to the tree of life (or the love of God, Christ, the Fountain of Living Waters) and the tactics of the adversary are very enticing as he will attempt to deceive us in ways that we do not yet understand.
The adversary and his river...
Rivers of shallow water tend to move quickly, creating swells of water, bashing against walls and rocks, and creating vortexes and whirlpools that can hold onto and drown even the strongest of people. This sounds so much like the adversary's plan. He endeavors to drag us down and to hold us under with all of his might, whirling us around like ragdolls until we lose ourselves. Bashing us into jagged rocks slamming us into walls of mud, forcing us into submission to his every desire, and dragging us down in whirlpools of addiction. Sure there are parts of the river that are not so rough, and it is these occasional calm areas of the adversary's dreadful river where you might gather your strength to pull yourself out and be in control again. An opportunity to exercise agency either to change and be better or to submit in weakness and forfeit more of the blessings of Heaven. It is these areas of calm that He uses to lure us in in the first place, only to lead us to areas where he starts to pick up his pace, to give us a 'fun' little ride to hook us on an adventure that will eventually lead to our destruction. We may think we are safe for a time, but he lulls us into carnal security, where we lose the power and ability to act with the agency that is so vital to God's plan of happiness. He takes us through his riptides with the intent of the destruction and the captivation of our miserable souls.
Christ, the Fountain of Living Water...
There is a song "Cleanse You" by Calee Reed, depicting a person asking God,
"Why did you lead me here to this uncharted sea? did you bring me here just to drown me?"
and His reply
"What if I didn't bring you here to drown you, but to cleanse you? and what if you chose to breathe me in, let this wash you clean again? I know the water is deep but if you only knew, it isn't meant to drown you but to cleanse you."
For some reason, though we know the Gospel to be true, though we know the church to be good, though we know it's teachings and a Gospel centered lifestyle to be of God, we only slowly wade into the Fountain of Living Water. Though we know it to be good, we still fear when we get up to our necks, we try to stay afloat, we remember and glance over to the opening in the river of filthy water that is so deceptively calm and enticing. We see a place that isn't so deep, a place where we could go to stand and breathe more easily, where it wouldn't require so much effort to live. I often forget when it feels I am swimming in deep water that I was not brought there to be drowned but to be cleansed, to be purified, and to become better.
Now, is it coincidence that today my good friend Bailey, a former mission companion, texted me this thought from his own gospel studies,
"Freedom from self slavery is true liberation"?
No coincidence. So what is self slavery? Well, this is my interpretation..
Self slavery is when we are at that great Fountain of Living Waters, but struggling to try to swim and stay afloat, looking at the other option, thinking about how easy the other way would be, and not being 'all in' for the Savior and His purposes. Self slavery is being caught anywhere in-between truth. We learn from the scriptures that if we are not for God, we are against Him. We don't have to be in Satan's river of filthy water for him to accomplish his purpose of keeping us from greater truth and progression. Self slavery is when we have 'somewhat' decided to follow Jesus Christ, but we aren't quite sure that we are ready to make, keep, and honor sacred covenants and commitments to God and our fellow man. And freedom from self slavery comes when we forget the easiness of the other way, focus not on where we might be able to otherwise stand a little easier for a time, and when we embrace Christ's Atoning blood. It is 'breathing Him in', or making him a part of our lives. Self slavery is ended through personal understanding of, purification through, and power in the Atonement of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
We may sometimes fear to go all in- to truly live the Law of Consecration- and reject the full power of Christ's Atonement because we fear it will drown out other areas and aspects of our lives that we find enjoyment in, but this is simply not true. We must remember the words from the hymn, 'Master, The Tempest is Raging', which say "No waters can swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean and earth and skies... Peace, be still; peace, be still.". The reality is that seeking for pleasure and personal gratification will drown out Christ and make us miserable. There is peace in Christ. There is joy in His plan. There is happiness, love, and all manner of the good and desirable aspects of life, to be found in Christ. No man or woman who will waste and wear out their lives in the service of God will be displeased with the final result of their efforts.
Be mindful of the water you are in.